No change on vaccine strategy, health minister Hugo de Jonge confirms
The Dutch government has no plans to change its decision to stop giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under the age of 60, health minister Hugo de Jonge told reporters on Tuesday evening.
In addition, it is still too early to say what the impact of Johnson & Johnson’s decision to halt deliveries of its Leiden-developed vaccine to Europe will be, De Jonge said. The European Medicines Agency is due to make a statement on the situation on Wednesday.
The much criticized decision to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine decision on the under-60s because of the risks remains in place, De Jonge said. ‘There are sufficient alternatives,’ De Jonge said, although he admitted that the decision by J&J may change that situation.
De Jonge and prime minister Mark Rutte outlined the government’s five point plan to reopen society, following the news last weekend that leaks about an April 21 deadline to reopen pavement cafes and scrap the curfew would not become a reality.
‘We all have our own Covid reality,’ Rutte said. ‘We are losing patience, we are more emotional and we are finding it harder to stick to the rules.’
Nevertheless, Rutte said, the main relaity is that the end is in sight. The first step in opening up society up again will be taken once we are over the peak of the current surge, he said. The April 21 date is too soon, he said. ‘We are looking at the figures on a weekly basis and we will decide on April 20 if measures can be taken on April 28.’
The first step, Rutte said, involves lifting the curfew, reopening pavement cafes and allowing people to welcome more than one visitor.
The second step will see amusement parks, swimming pools and sports schools reopening. The ministers did not go into what the 3rd, 4th and 5th stages would involve.
Not set in stone
The date of April 28 is not set in stone, Rutte said. ‘We cannot take the risk that we create an impossible situation in hospitals,’ he said. ‘We are going to look at what we can do on a weekly basis.’
As a start, after school clubs will be able to reopen their doors from April 19 and if things progress as hoped, universities will be able to hold face-to-face lessons from April 26. However, that decision will be taken next Tuesday.
‘We cannot take the risk that we create an impossible situation in hospitals,’ Rutte said. ‘We are going to look at developments from one week to the next.’
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